These delicious bean and cheese Pupusas are incredibly easy to make and will hopefully transport you to the streets of El Salvador! This recipe is fool-proof and I even have step-by-step photos to walk you through it.

We usually fill our Pupusas with refried beans and shredded mozzarella cheese, but you can fill them with your favorite shredded meat or pork! To truly get the authentic experience and taste, top them with this simple curtido (cabbage relish) and salsa roja!

Three bean and cheese pupusas on a white plate with curtido cabbage relish and red salsa served on the side.

I’m not from El Salvador, and this is just my version of pupusas that I love to make my family in my home kitchen. We love cooking all sorts of international foods in our home and I love teaching my kids about other cultures. I’ve had many authentic pupusas in my life and they are absolutely delicious! The soft corn flour dough is stuffed with beans and cheese and cooked on a hot griddle so you’re left with a delicious and warm, filled corn tortilla.

This is a great recipe to get the family involved in cooking together, and the perfect recipe to serve with company or at a party since, it makes a bunch!

What are Pupusas?

Pupusas are small, round corncakes.  They are similar to a flatbread or pancake that is made with corn flour (masa) and filled with cheese and beans or meat.  Pupusas are a traditional dish from El Salvador and they’re cooked on a hot griddle and often served with curtido and salsa roja (a Salvadorian red sauce).

You may have heard of Venezuelan “arepas” or Mexican “gorditas.”  Pupusas are like a cousin to these popular Latin American recipes as all of them are made with corn masa and stuffed with a variety of fillings.

What is in pupusas?

Pupusas can be filled with a variety of different savory fillings, like cheese, beans, beef, pork or veggies. My family loves the delicious simplicity of bean and cheese pupusas!

How to make pupusas:
  • Mix flour, salt, and water.  Add masa harina (corn flour) and salt to a large mixing bowl. Add the warm water, little by little, mixing the dough with your hand until you get the consistency of a soft play dough.
  • Add butter and chicken bouillon. These are optional, but add amazing flavor!

The process for making the dough for papusas, mixing it with your hands to form a soft dough.

  • Form the dough. Scoop the dough into large golf ball size portions. Use the palms of your hands to pat the dough into a disc, about 4 inches in diameter.
  • Add the filling. Scoop about a tablespoon of the beans and place in the center of the masa disc, followed by a sprinkle of cheese. Gently bring the edges of the dough up and around the filling, pinching it closed into a ball. Gently pat the dough between your palms again to form it back into a disc.
  • Cook. Place pupusas on a hot griddle or skillet and cook for about 2-4 minutes on each side, until golden.
  • Serve. Serve immediately, topped with Curtido and Salsa Roja.

Pupusa dough in the palm of a hand with beans and cheese, folded into a ball, and then patted into a flat disc.

Tips for making pupusas:

If the masa is sticking to your hands while forming the pupusas, mix a little bit of water and oil together in a bowl and dip your hands in it as needed, while you work.

Four bean and cheese pupusas cooking on a griddle.

How to store leftover pupusas:

Cooked pupusas are best served warm, right off the griddle. If you don’t use all of the masa dough, leftover dough can be stored in the refrigerator in a tightly sealed container for 1-2 days. If the dough dries out at all you can add a little more warm water to it before using.

Leftover cooked pupusas should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Reheat them on a hot griddle for a minute on each side.

A stack of five pupusas with the top one half eaten and bean and cheese filling showing.

How to freeze pupusas:

To freeze pupusas, make them through step 6 (just before cooking them) and place them flat on a baking sheet.  Freeze them for 30 minutes and then transfer them to a tightly sealed ziplock bag and place them back in the freezer for up to 3 months.  To reheat, allow them to thaw completely and follow steps 7-8.

What to serve with pupusas:

It’s popular to serve pupusas with curtido (a cabbage relish/slaw) and a simple salsa roja recipe.

You may also like these ethnic inspired recipes:

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Recipe

Three bean and cheese pupusas on a white plate with curtido cabbage relish and red salsa served on the side.
Prep 30 mins
Cook 5 mins
Total 35 mins
Add to Meal Plan

Video

Ingredients
  

For the Pupusas:

  • 4 cups masa harina , white or yellow
  • 3 ½ - 4 cups warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons butter , softened (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon* , optional

For the filling:

  • 1 can refried beans , or homemade
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese , or Oaxaca cheese

Optional Toppings:

Instructions
 

  • Add masa harina (corn flour) and salt to a large mixing bowl. 
  • Add the warm water, little by little, mixing the dough with your hand. You may not need all of the water. You want the masa to be the consistency of a soft play dough. If the dough is too wet, mix in some more masa harina. If it’s too dry, add a little more water.
    Mix in butter and chicken bouillon, if using.
  • Scoop the dough into large, golf-ball-size portions. You can scoop all of the dough into balls before continuing, or make 1 pupusa at a time. Be sure to keep the dough covered with a damp cloth as you work, to keep it from drying out.
  • Use the palms of your hands to pat the dough into a disc, about 4 inches in diameter.
  • Scoop about half a tablespoon of the beans and place it in the center of the dough circle, followed by a pinch of shredded cheese. 
  • Gently bring the edges of the dough up and around the filling, pinching it closed into a ball. Gently pat the dough between your palms to form it into a disc again.
    Be gentle so you don’t have big cracks of filling come through, but if you do have some, its fine! They don’t need to be perfect 🙂
  • Heat a large ungreased skillet or pan over medium heat. Place pupusas on the hot pan and cook for about 2-4 minutes on each side. You will know the pupusas are ready to flip when the edges are set and the bottom is lightly golden.
  • Serve immediately, topped with Curtido and Salsa Roja.

Notes

*You can use chicken buollion paste or granulated
Tips for storing and freezing pupusas are above in the post.

Nutrition

Calories: 108kcalCarbohydrates: 15gProtein: 4gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gCholesterol: 9mgSodium: 188mgPotassium: 54mgFiber: 1gVitamin A: 135IUCalcium: 73mgIron: 1.5mg

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About The Author

Lauren Allen

Welcome! I’m Lauren, a mom of four and lover of good food. Here you’ll find easy recipes and weeknight meal ideas made with real ingredients, with step-by-step photos and videos.

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Comments

    1. I’m not trying to insult anyone and I’m sorry you feel that way. As I say in the post, I love cooking international cuisine and I state upfront that this is simply my basic recipe for pupusas I make my family in our home kitchen. You’re welcome to write your own post online with your own, more authentic recipe.

  1. 4 stars
    Thx for this easy recipe! We usually get our pupusa fix at El Rematito flea market along with elote so I was happy to give this recipe a shot! Mine came out a bit chubby…but I’ll improve. I did use the bouillon & a bit of onion powder…filled with pepper jack & minced leftover shredded pork. 🌶🌿 Served with salsa, sour cream & cilantro…Nice, easy & friends asked for your recipe!

  2. 5 stars
    I’ve never had any of this before but I had all the ingredients and a rotisserie chicken that needed eating. It was great. I had an issue with the masa cooking all the way through so had to return the papusas to the griddle for a bit longer. 100% due to my lack of technique and making them a bit bulky! The salsa roja and curtido were excellent as well. Thanks for a fun new recipe/dinner!

  3. 5 stars
    This recipe is perfect and easy to make. I first had them in McAllen, TX after hearing Jack from Titanic talk about them in an article. I am having them now for my Christmas dinner and had every ingredient in my cabinet already.

  4. Absolutely delicious and so easy to make. I added a bit if chorizo. Sooo yummy. Salsa and a dab of sour cream. OMG.

    1. I have not tried this recipe yet but I might make it for dinner tonight. I have tried Pupusas before and I love them. So excited to try the recipe! 🙂

    2. 5 stars
      I made these tonight for my Salvadorian husband and he loved them. I’ve attempted pupusas before but they were just ok. We loved these ones and I also made the curtidos and salsa roja. All delicious. One minor tweak I made is added sour cream to the cheese and also minced green peppers. I also added butter to the grill to make them extra crispy. SO SO good!

  5. 5 stars
    Very simple and turned out great! The only thing I did differently was add additional beans. Numm!

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